By Matt Keppel
Now, I’m not much for a soap-box… not big ones at least. Nevertheless, some soap-boxes are worth speaking on, especially when the discussions come down to issues of life. Yes, this is an article about being pro-life! (knowing nods and eye-rolls) Not abortion or death penalty, but the life of the family. When it comes to pro-life issues, family life is often lost or looped in with abortion, but the life of the family is by every right a major issue on its own (albeit intimately connected to the others).
The Church in the United States has, since its coming, always been one of the working class. Our fathers and grandfathers worked in factories and fields toiling for a better life and we got just that. We were given power in this country. Many of us even made names for ourselves! We knew what we wanted; we fought for our rights as the working class and have thrived because of it. Even still, we may have fought so hard to get what we thought we wanted that we have strayed from our banners. Indeed, it is time to pick up our heads and see that in our fight for a better life we have left our families behind.
Last week, how many of us put in more than 40 hours of work for our jobs? (You look silly raising your hand, but that’s okay we don’t judge…yet) Now, how many of you have families? Young children? I’m sure that we have all heard how workers in the United States take the fewest vacation days in the West (Euro-based countries). This should not come as a surprise to anyone as we witness it year after year. Does this practice just happen? Every day I see students who derive their self-worth by the work that they produce, and it’s encouraged by their schools and families. It only follows that those same people would carry over those feelings when it comes to a job. Do we think that some magical change of heart takes place between childhood and adulthood? If so, let me be the first to tell you that you’ve been deceived.
It is time to begin that change of heart. As Catholics, we have fought the good fight and we’ve run the race. Many are tired of fighting, some believe that there is nothing more to fight for, yet I tell you that much is to be gained. Our families deserve it. Our children deserve parents who are present during their formative years. They deserve both mothers and fathers receiving time off to take care of newborn children. As the Church itself lays out in its Rights and Dignity of Workers, we deserve to take this time simply because we are created by God. It’s an issue of social justice just like abortion, poverty, and the death penalty, though it certainly does not have the sex appeal.
I believe in the value of a hard-day’s work. I know what it feels like to produce something beautiful (as a former brewer, right now it tastes like bitter-chocolate stout). However, at the end of the day, everything we do is for the good of those around us. Our jobs are good insofar as they help us to build the kingdom of God, which, in most cases, begins with our family. It is now time to take care of our families, not just by providing an earning, but by being present physically, spiritually, and emotionally.